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Romani camp on alert in Pisa: Community mobilizing against evacuation

Italy, Pisa, 4.11.2014 12:14, (ROMEA)
A group of Romani people is protesting the decision to evacuate the Bigattiera camp in Pisa, Italy (2014).
A group of Romani people is protesting the decision to evacuate the Bigattiera camp in Pisa, Italy (2014).

The situation for 120 Romani people living in Bigattiera camp in Pisa, Italy, is starting to become really complicated. On October 30th, a group of representatives of the community, along with the associations ″Africa Insieme″ and ″Comitato per i diritti dei bambini della Bigattiera″, demonstrated in front of the local municipality against an evacuation of the camp announced by social workers. 

Selatin Kamil, who was chosen to act as a spokesperson during a press conference on the issue, explained that they social workers' offers with respect to the evacuation were absolutely inadequate, as they did not respect basic rights. ″They came and made us three different offers. The first was to send us back to Macedonia with a payment of EUR 200 per person. That's incredible, we have been living here for 20 – 25 years, our children were born and registered here and they speak only Italian. We lost our previous citizenship too, we would be considered illegal migrants if we were to return to Macedonia, we absolutely cannot accept this. The second offer was for us to stay in Italy but leave the Tuscan region - but we don't know where they want us to move. We could even do that by ourselves, but we decided to stay,  because our lives, our friends, and our jobs are here. Our children go to school here and they must be considered as Pisani, like us.″

The third option offered was the most bitter. ″They told us to rent some apartments here and said the municipality could help us with that. They don′t understand that if we wanted to rent apartments, we would have already done that. Nobody trusts us, nobody rents houses to Roma people, they have a lot of preconceptions about us, most of the people are afraid of us," the Romani spokesperson said. 

Since 2011, children living at Bigattiera don't have their own school bus anymore, and there hasn't been any official communication about it since August 2013. Sergio Bontempelli of the "Africa Insieme" organization explains his association's point of view: ″We're asking the authorities in charge to cancel this evacuation and to resolve the situation without engaging in any kind of extortion. This camp has been officially inserted in the Cittá sottili programme, it is an authorized encampment. The National Government Strategy, which is based on EU directives, forbids an evacuation action like this. They must immediately stop the evacuation procedure and start discussing how we can find the best solution in order to resolve this situation.″

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